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The erosion of academic freedom in UK Higher Education

Traianou, Anna. 2015. The erosion of academic freedom in UK Higher Education. Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, 15(1), pp. 39-47. ISSN 1863-5415 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article, I treat ‘academic freedom’ as referring to the autonomy that academics need if they are to do their work well, on analogy with what is required in other professional occupations. In these terms, I argue that there are 2 aspects of academic freedom: the degree of autonomy that universities have from governments, and the autonomy that academics have within universities. Using this framework, I explore how, from the 1980s onwards, UK governments have increasingly intervened in higher education, on the basis of the assumption that universities must serve the economy, seeking to maximize and measure the ‘returns’ on public investment. I argue that these external developments have promoted internal changes within universities away from collegial modes of organization and towards more managerial ones, and as a result have significantly reduced academic freedom. I conclude by briefly examining developments in the UK in terms of a rather different conception of academic freedom, one that is currently quite influential, which virtually identifies it with ‘free speech’ for academics and students.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00157

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Dates:

DateEvent
27 March 2014Accepted
27 March 2015Published

Item ID:

19223

Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2016 17:39

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2018 12:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/19223

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